Fundraising Appeal

We have just launched a Just giving appeal to raise funds for much needed new sails and a new tiller for Barnabas.

Please give generously!

Donate with JustGiving.Pay with Mastercard, Visa, American express, PayPal, Apple Pay or Direct Debit.

…and here’s the link to the campaign page.

Sandy Cove Regatta Gallery

Barnabas’ 140th Birthday: Taking Stock

I asked myself recently when sailing under reduced rig, with mizzen set as the standing lug and a tiny bit of threadbare tanned canvas hung tautly over the stern, ‘how would hardened 18th century fishermen be going about this passage in a force 8, with several tons of pilchards slopping around the bilges?’ It’s a mind boggling thought, as this would all have been in a day’s work and essentially, the backbone of their livelihoods. Today, most of our trips are weather dependent and we call it leisure sailing, with a cold beer thrown in at sunset or the occasional vegetarian meal to consider!

Taken from Gwennap Head: Barnabas returning from Scilly in a blow.

Putting it into perspective, we were returning from St Martin’s (Scilly) in October, having scattered a crew member’s mum’s ashes off Old Grimsby. We’d then anchored, or rather sheltered in Greater St Martin’s Bay for two days from a south westerly storm. Laying low in the Seven Stones Pub and listening to the harmonious voice of our master mariner (on the piano) for two nights, a small weather window thankfully appeared. Leaving at dawn, it didn’t take long before the Atlantic forces shared some of its love and squally delights, creating a very confused sea en-route to Wolf Rock. With the wind howling over the starboard quarter for several hours, we were battered by hail stones and the occasional beast of a wave, wanted to flatten or breach us. With 20 tons travelling at 7 knots, it felt like we were surfing down the big ones off Landsend.

For much of the experience, one crew member was ‘asleep’ below deck, whilst the rest of us took turns on the tiller or sheltered from the elements behind the mizzen. We’re not competitive as safety always comes first, however, it ended up being a sub-six hour passage home to Newlyn! I’m not sure that the technique of sailing has really changed on Barnabas over the 14 decades, except we now have an engine, radio, essential safety equipment and decent wet gear. Oh, and a spare tiller and back up Navionics (on my phone!). Back in the day, crew would have the catch sorted and offloaded, prepped the boat for the next trip and only then, headed to the pub for a well-earned pint. We drank warm tea, ate a seasoned bowl of pasta and then crashed out asleep!

I feel a sense of pride to be part of the Cornish Maritime Trust, where our growing community shares a passion for sailing four historic vessels, all having played a major role in Cornwall’s fishing heritage.

Last week was Barnabas’ 140 birthday celebration, where we recreated a small end of season regatta in conjunction with Newlyn’s Sandy Cove Boatyard. This is a fantastic spot for winter boat storage or essential maintenance, as the team here are friendly and extremely knowledgeable. 6 traditional vessels joined us for the day, including three other luggers, Happy Return, Silver Stream and Mizpah. Heading out with a brisk 25 mph westerly, we all chased one other around the Gear Pole, Low Lee and a mark just off Sandy Cove. It was a wonderful experience, but the icing on the cake was having Happy Return sailing just meters from us (mostly astearn!) for much of the course. There was a fair amount of competitive volleys of encouragement. It must have been some sight a century ago, when a community of hundreds of such like dipping luggers regularly departed Mount’s Bay, in search of fish.

Another lovely birthday experience for us, was that we were asked if a direct descendent of Barnabas Thomas (her first owner), could sail with us. We discovered this had been one of her life-long dreams, as she helmed with an ‘ear to ear’ grin that summed up pure elation. I think Barnabas found a connection through her soul, as a tear rolled down her cheeks.

The afternoon ended with nearly a hundred Cornish Maritime Trust members and friends coming to Sandy Cove for a celebratory drink, paella and a sing song. Sarah Bell (Chapel Street Gallery, Penzance) had created a stunning original silk screen image of Barnabas especially for the event. This was auctioned and together with Sarah’s card donations, raised over £500 alone. What a gift! Please visit her gallery as there’s another original to buy raffle tickets for (until the summer), as well as a few stunning Christmas cards that Barnabas has somehow photo-bombed! As well as the incredibly generous beer donation from Dynamite Valley Brewery and the event location hosts, Sandy Cove Boatyard, there were many essential contributors, from boat taxi to chefs. We so appreciated all your help. One of the Trusts oldest crew members from Falmouth also turned up for a sail, as did the youngest, at nearly two. He’s been out three times already!

Sarah Bell

We also made a small trophy (based on two ruined paintbrushes!) for our first Duke of Edinburgh Award bronze student (14). He’s contributed enormously this past year, scrubbing, anti-fouling, painting and generally learning about the charity and sailing. As Trustees of these historic vessels, their future is only safe, once the next generation is bitten by the ‘traditional boating bug’. I feel this new community needs gentle encouragement from an early age, by jumping off the out-rigger into the ocean, eating what they catch, sanding or shaping a bit of wood and exploring idyllic coves along our coastline. Essentially, planting that romantic seed which will hopefully blossom one day! At £40 for a family membership, we so encourage you to come out with the children. This season, we’ve mainly day-sailed and explored locally, however, Kynance Cove, Sennen, Lamorna, Mousehole, Falmouth, Porthlevan, St Michael’s Mount, Scilly’s, the Helford and many other stunning spots have brought ‘oohs and aah’s’ and a few mackerel over the gunnels.

Due to Covid, it’s been two quiet seasons for our vessels. However, the CMT’s future does look bright. We feel exceptionally fortunate, as dozens of new motivated members have signed up this summer. Ellen (1882) is on the trailer and ready to explore further afield. Barnabas (1881) is structurally sound but is still in need of essential funds for a set of sails, crew bunks, wood burning stove, solar charger and a new tiller. Softwing (1900) is in good shape but needs a few younger members or experienced sailors to gradually come on board and assist skippering her from Falmouth.

And lastly, our new 22 foot dipping lugger Silver Stream (2004), came into her own on Saturday. With seven crew, she flew over and through the waves like a thoroughbred, with something to prove. She probably would have lapped us on Barnabas, had it been a longer course! Next season, our hope is that she will create her own little community of sailors, to be used as a training vessel for new skippers, as well as offering more flexibility around the tides. Again, we thank Glenn and Clare Morris for generously trusting us as her custodians.

From all of the Trustees at the Cornish Maritime Trust, we’d like to thank you for your support and generosity this past year, as we get back on course. We hope to start next season scrubbing and painting a bit earlier, with several festivals on the horizon to get excited about. Please stay in touch.

Stay Safe

Rob McDowell

More Sandy Cove Regatta photos

Happy Return and Barnabas round Low Lee cardinal, Mounts Bay, during the Sandy Cove Regatta

Sandy Cove Regatta

Images from the event

Row your boat

Sometimes, we like to row our 15 tonne lugger. On this occasion we were off to deliver cargo from Penzance to Falmouth. The sail trading schooner De Gallant had stopped over in Penzance but needed a hand to deliver part of her cargo of rum, chocolate and various goodies from the Caribbean to customers in Falmouth.

We love to promote sailing and work to raise awareness of the role of sailing in addressing climate change – so we put our oars in and offered to help Alex and the gang at New Dawn Traders by taking the cargo on its last leg.

Here we are rowing out of Newlyn harbour. No sweat…

Thanks to Rob McDowell for holding the camera.

Some nautical notes: it was very common for luggers to carry sweeps aboard for harbour work in moments of calm like this. We keep ours in the rafting irons – at bottom right you can just see the starboard forward iron and the ‘raft’ of spars and sails carried in it. The irons are mounted in the capping rail and swung outboard as here, they help keep the deck free for work.

You can also see the fore lug set ready to catch the breeze – and those of you familiar with dipping luggers will notice it’s set against the mast, on the ‘wrong’ tack. Old photos of luggers working in and out of port show they often did not bother to dip the lug in light airs when they were doing short tacks. They relied on the mast not falling down, as it’s completely unsupported.

Sailing out of harbour

It’s not all that often you get to sail out of harbour these days in a dipping lugger. It helps if the wind is fair, as short tacks in a confined area are hard work, and harbour masters don’t often like it for obvious reasons – but it’s great fun, planning your escape under sail and oar with the crew, that last shove off the quay wall with a boathook and then trusting to your judgement and the skill of your crew.

This short clip captures Barnabas sailing off to transfer a New Dawn Traders cargo shipment from De Gallant, for its last leg of a journey from the Caribbean to customers in Falmouth.

Thanks to Chris Yacoubian for filming on board, and Adrian Cobello for piloting the drone.


Participating in maritime festivals is an important part of how we fulfil our charitable aims of educating of the public and preserving the maritime heritage. It is also fantastic fun.

St Ives

St Ives has always been a special place for Barnabas: she was built at Porthgwidden beach and in recent years has returned to participate in celebrations of the maritime heritage of the town.


As a wooden boat much more than a century old, Barnabas requires a great deal of maintenance. Members of the Trust, volunteers and professional marine services do a great deal to keep her afloat.

Restoration of Barnabas

Barnabas was extensively restored in Penzance in 2005, thanks to great efforts to raise funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. She was re-launched in July 2006. A book detailing her history and restoration by Sue McNab is available from the Trust: Barnabas: A St Ives Mackerel Driver, Sue McNab, 2007.

Barnabas Around Britain

In 2015 Barnabas sailed around Britain, following the route traditionally taken by Cornish fishermen of the Victorian period as they followed the herring fishery through the summer months. The voyage took 11 weeks, with crew changes taking place each weekend in a different port.

Barnabas At Sea

Barnabas has had a lot of adventures going to sea…

Gordon Frickers: A Different Perspective

Rob McDowell

There are some joys to being ‘locked down’! For me, one of them is occasionally trolling the internet (as you do) for wooden boats… and on this instance, I unexpectedly stumbled across an artist I’d not heard of before. Gordon Frickers. I’m sorry Gordon, I’ve spent too long under the African skies to be cultured in maritime art.
What I saw was simple, bright, colourful and refreshing, a delightful watercolour of Barnabas, painted in the early 70’s. And the accompanying text included something along the lines of, ‘I wonder where she is now’? I had no option but to reply…

Barnabas, painted by Gordon Frickers around 1974

Gordon writes back, ‘one of the earliest surviving examples of my emerging talent. I recall Barnabas very well. Back in the 1970’s she was one of the first small craft to be restored, at the time a brave and imaginative project. When I painted her from life, she was said to be 101 years old. To capture the ambience, I was sitting in sunshine on a bollard on a quay near Penryn, West Cornwall. I probably drew the picture 1974. The Cornish lads were very proud of her and gleefully claiming that in a fresh breeze, manned by 16 drunken Cornishmen, she had easily outsailed racing yachts of similar size from the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club’. 50 years on, things don’t change… apart from not being drunk and in charge.

‘Luggers were fast, sea worthy, economic, much used by fishermen, smugglers and sometimes by pirates. Coincidentally, one of the earliest examples of the work of one of my heroes, Toulouse Lautrec, is also a ‘lugger painting’.’ Wooden vessels were to feature more in Gordon’s life, in two spectacular gale-based paintings, one of Sir Robin Knox-Johnson climbing ‘above a wave’ on Suhaili.

Roaring Forties by Gordon Frickers

Roaring Forties was the first of three Gordon Frickers paintings commissioned by Sir Robin Knox-Johnson and depicts a dramatic moment during the yachtsman’s 1969 solo circumnavigation. ‘For a brief, inglorious moment there was me & two masts in sight & nothing but ocean in any direction for 2,000 miles. I saw this grey beard approaching. It wasn’t the biggest, it looked dangerous. I leapt into the rigging to avoid being swept away.’ Sir Robin Knox-Johnson.

Another is of Pete Goss just about to be ‘under a wave’ on Spirit of Mystery. Spirit of Mystery is a replica (2008) 37 foot Mounts Bay lugger which headed on an epic voyage from Newlyn to Australia in 2008/09, in search of fortune. This followed the original 1854/55 passage and was skippered by Westcountry sailor and adventurer, Pete Goss MBE and his crew. Before my time, Pete was the Patron or Sailing Master on Barnabas, apparently fine-tuning his lugger skills before setting off to Australia! If anybody has heard of a more adventurous lugger adventure, please let me know? Well, one certainly can’t forget Jude and Jono Brickhill in Guide Me, still engineless, and based round the Lizard in Gweek.

Spirit of Mystery

Anyway, do have a browse over Gordon’s diverse range of paintings on his web site. I have a gut feeling they are a good investment, so start saving for a commission – naturally of you sailing Barnabas this summer!
Keep safe and I hope to see a team antifouling with us in a few months. Proper Job.

Christmas Get-Together 29th November 2019

CMT XMas 2019-11-29

Film Night Fundraiser 23rd March 2019

Book your tickets here!

Film Night Poster 2019 Between Home-720

Privacy Policy

At the CMT, we take data protection and privacy seriously: we have updated our data privacy policy. You can read about it here:

Film Night Fundraiser 14th April 2018

Johnny Frenchman Poster

Book your tickets here!

Bottle Bank Raffle Prizes

Thanks to the Bottle Bank in Falmouth for helping us out with prizes for the Christmas Dinner Raffle!


Oh no, it must be Christmas…

CMT Xmas17

Summer Sightings

Some sightings of Barnabas have been sent in by some vigilant sea twitchers… Thanks to Dickon Berriman and Steve Quinton for these pictures of SS634 sneaking into Falmouth for the Classics.

Barnabas nosing up to her mooring in Falmouth - thanks to the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners!

Barnabas nosing up to her mooring in Falmouth – thanks to the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners!

A sighting near Black Rock

A sighting near Black Rock

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